Jerry Reimer on a public art piece in the neighborhood.

Jerry Reimer and Scott Semrad build places for people to live. They also build neighborhoods by adhering to a shared set of core values – be a good neighbor, take chaos to calm, treat the property like you live in it, do what you say you’re going to do, don’t forget the difficulties of the little guy who doesn’t have many resources.

Their company, Urban Village Development, is the recipient of Omaha by Design’s 2012 Neighborhood Leaf. Presented annually, the award recognizes an individual, organization or business that has worked to preserve and enhance the metropolitan area’s residential neighborhoods. It was presented at the Aug. 15 meeting of the Omaha by Design Advisory Committee.

In the fall of 2007, Reimer and Semrad were introduced to each other by a real estate professional who thought the two would make good partners. They founded Midtown Properties LLC in 2008 and developed the current Urban Village brand in 2009. Reimer said their approach to development can be summed up in a single sentence – “We will not own anything that we would not live in ourselves.”

Today, Urban Village Development is a collection of single-family homes, townhomes and apartment units in an area bordered roughly by California Street on the north, Pacific Street on the south, Park Avenue on the east and 38th Street on the west. “We thought the area had great jobs but that the quality of housing didn’t align with these jobs, thus forcing people to commute,” Reimer said.

The duo began with apartments, places like The Art Decos and The Barnard Flats on Park Avenue. These buildings, once grand in appearance and rich in architectural detail, had been allowed to deteriorate over time into hot spots for unwanted activity. The Urban Village rehabilitation approach focuses on maintaining the original building’s integrity yet adding modern amenities and finishes – large closets, Internet hookup, stainless steel appliances – that make it appealing to young professionals and others interested in an urban living experience.

Their latest effort is The Portlands, a series of three-bedroom, three bathroom townhomes on Park Avenue that opened June 30. The completion of this project brings Urban Village Development’s presence in midtown Omaha to about 360 units in about 25 buildings. “We feel, think and try to act more like a neighbor than a developer, and the neighborhood supports and appreciates the work we are doing,” Reimer said.

The company has worked with a local convenience store to expand its food offerings to attract the new residents Urban Village projects are bringing to the neighborhood. Its staff is also quick to dispel any misconceptions people may have about the neighborhoods they work in. “Some people in Omaha often confuse low quality housing and diversity with danger – we don’t find the area dangerous and enjoy the diversity,” Reimer said.

For more information about Urban Village Development, visit www.uvomaha.com.

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